Hotshot Idah keeps Ireland U-17s on Euro roll
Ireland's purple patch at underage level continued yesterday when the U-17s clinched a top seeding for the elite stage of the European Championship qualifiers draw by coming from behind to beat Ukraine 3-1.
Both nations had already beaten Azerbaijan and mini-group hosts Bulgaria to be assured of progression from the first-phase qualifiers, but earning first seed status by winning the group will help Ireland avoid facing the big guns in the next stage in March.
Ireland have reached two of the last three Euro finals at U-17 level and yesterday's comeback, led by Adam Idah's brace, puts them in a commanding position to qualify for another showpiece next May, which will be hosted by England.
Idah featured at the last finals in Croatia, scoring the winner against Bosnia-Herzegovina, and has excelled playing at his own age-group.
Yesterday's brace brought the tally of the recent Norwich City signing to seven goals in the three group games.
Vikentii Voloshyn's 14th-minute goal was the first Ireland conceded in Bulgaria, but they kept their composure and Tyreik Wright almost equalised with a header that hit an upright.
The introduction of Troy Parrot, the 15-year-old Dubliner recruited by Tottenham Hotspur from Belvedere in the summer, made a huge difference and Idah quickly drew them level.
Adam O'Reilly, the latest Corkman signed by Preston North End, fired Ireland ahead on his debut at this level 12 minutes later and then Idah - another Leesider - settled it in stoppage time with his second.
IRELAND - K Clarke (Bohemians); M Murphy (St Joseph's), O McEntee (Newcastle), N Collins (Stoke), K Ledwidge (Southampton); B Coffey (Celtic), J Knight (Derby Co), S Brennan (Southampton); A O'Reilly (Preston), A Idah (Norwich ), T Wright (Lakewood). Subs: T Parrot (Tottenham) for Coffey (h/t), C Thompson (Wolves) for Wright (71 mins).